ACG - Agency Consulting Group

The PIPELINE

A national monthly newsletter for agency principals dedicated to agency management topic

Employee Motivation Programs

If you've been thinking about putting a plaque on your wall to name "Employee of the Month" as a tool for motivating employees, think again. The Employee of the Month award often motivates one employee (often the same one each month) while demotivating all of the other employees. What's the demotivating factor? Not being able to attain the position of Employee of the Month! An Employee of the Month program often demotivates because you are pitting each employee against each other. Their can be only one winner. More often than not the selection process for Employee of the Month is vague and subjective. The winners are considered the bosses favorites. Employees who think they may have a chance at the award may even be motivated for a few months. However, eventually, they realize that they are not going to attain the award because someone else is better or because they don't know what to do to get it. At that point they actually become demotivated and no longer find it worthwhile to do the job as well as they can.

However, awards and campaigns to motivate employees are not a waste of time if done properly. Here are a few rules for the proper motivation of employees through award campaigns:

1. Make the success of employees in a campaign easily measurable by the employees themselves. A motivational campaign should not be vague or subjective.

2. Make the campaigns "mini campaigns" , short in term and quick to reward. Employee motivation is difficult to maintain even for a quarter. Motivational campaigns of annual terms are almost impossible to maintain for the full term of the program. Insurance agency programs are best run in month-long terms because we're used to doing our reporting at month end.

3. Make rewards tangible. This does not mean that they have to be large. However, if your motivating employees to perform better, the enhanced productivity and performance is normally equivalent to the generation of better customer satisfaction or greater profits for the company. Dinner for two or small monetary awards (in cash) are often appreciated as positive stroking mechanisms.

4. Permit all employees who can achieve the standard goals that you have set to "win". If the motivating performance increases productivity and profits for the company, wouldn't you prefer to have all of your employees "win" ? The only people losing in this scenario are those who can not achieve the standards that you've set for your program. Set your standards higher than current performance but not too high. Nothing stops you from "raising the bar" as overall performance of your staff increases.

5. Enhance cooperation instead of competition. If you're rewarding winning employees with a dinner for two, what's wrong with rewarding the same employees a dinner for four if all of the employees in the department achieve the goal of the campaign? If the campaign rewards employees with financial incentives, increase the financial incentive with the number of employees making the grade. As you can imagine, employees will begin to develop a very cooperative spirit if they feel that the more people "winning" the better their own personal reward.

Motivational campaigns, in themselves are wonderful. It is one of the ways that we can provide positive feedback for excellent performance outside of the normal performance evaluation process in the business. Use these tips to guard yourself against creating "demotivating programs" instead of motivational programs for your agency.